(From Chapter 1 of Magical Midlife Mom, Book #3)
Regan and I ran like our lives depended on it.
Our idyllic surroundings contrasted with our frantic pace. Yellow and white wildflowers dotted the rolling terrain surrounding us. Beyond the dirt trail winding through the grass, a beach curved along gently lapping waves. During low tide, the dark wet sand marked where the waterline would once again rise in a few hours. A flock of seagulls picked at crab remains as they waddled across the Point St. George shoreline.
We couldn’t stop to admire the scenery. We had to keep running, or our pursuer would catch us, and it would be all over.
I spared a glance over my shoulder, wiping sweat from my brow. “She’s gaining on us.”
“You need to pick up the pace,” Regan said ahead of me.
I knew she could go faster but had slowed for my sake. I was no longer a nimble teenager like Regan.
“You go ahead,” I said between deep breaths.
“And leave you behind? Never.”
The woman behind us shouted, waving her arms menacingly. Dressed all in black from her leather jacket to her jeans, she should have been sweating in the midday heat, not closing the distance between us. Her words were lost to the seagull cries, but we got the general gist of her threatening message.
“I can keep up,” I insisted. “Go.”
Regan obliged, her more casual strides growing longer, her arms pumping furiously as the trail veered away from the beach. Her strawberry blond ponytail swung from side to side as she pushed her athletic frame forward. She’d been on the high school track team until a few weeks ago and was used to sprinting.
I could run just fine, but I was more accustomed to a recreational jog. I kept having to push frizzy chestnut hair out of my face that didn’t quite fit into my own lopsided ponytail. The path’s incline steepened, causing my thighs to burn in protest. Two six-foot-tall ridges formed on either side of us, slopes of wind-swept sand giving us some cover from the woman in black.
I hoped the elevation change would slow down our pursuer, but as we exited that narrow tunnel back onto a flat field, she’d gained on us.
“Her speed’s . . . not natural . . .” I panted.
A vehicle sat in the large gravel parking lot up ahead. For once, I was happy to see my mother’s beat-up hatchback. If we could make it to the car before our pursuer, everything would be okay.
“Final stretch!” Regan cried. She took off like a rocket, leaving me in her literal dust as her sneakers shook up the earth. I groaned but forced my speed up a notch.
The screams of our pursuer intensified even as the California coast winds pushed against us. The first distinct words reached my ears.
“. . . You’ll never outrun the fae at this rate! You’re too slow!”
Regan made it to the car well ahead of me. She whipped around, her eyes scanned behind me. “She’s almost on you!”
I urged my legs to pump faster, but they responded with a cramp that halved my speed.
“Slow her down!” I yelled at my daughter.
Regan blanched. “I can’t do that!”
“Do you want her”—I hacked phlegm from my aching throat—“to win?”
Regan hesitated for a moment, but then she cupped her hands around her mouth so her words would carry across the distance.
“Stop running, Barbara!”
My mother had almost gotten to my side when Regan’s words rang out. “You’re trying to cheat!” she shrieked as she whizzed past me.
“It’s not working,” I argued, attempting to accelerate.
“Yes, it is!” Barbara yelled as she slowed down. She skidded to a halt even though we had several yards left to get to the car.
I gloated as I passed her. “You should be proud. Your magic training is paying off.”
I spoke too soon. Barbara’s arms and legs strained as if wading through the ocean itself. With a few frantic motions, she suddenly surged forward again.
“Regan!” I screamed. “Do something!”
“STOP!” my daughter commanded again.
It didn’t faze Barbara. She caught up to me, matching my pace. “Pathetic!” she yelled beside me. “Relying on your daughter to save your own skin.”
I swallowed my sarcastic reply. It would cost me precious seconds, and I would not let my fae hunter mother beat me at her own stupid training exercise.
“C’mon, Mom!” Regan encouraged. “You can do it!”
My hand stretched for the car as the ground beneath me changed from dirt to gravel. Barbara and I were neck-and-neck, but I had the advantage of a slightly longer stride. I could still beat her.
Or I would have, if Barbara hadn’t jabbed her hip into mine, knocking me off balance.
I stumbled, and in that split second of recovery, Barbara shoved past me and slammed her palm on the hatchback fender in victory.
Magical Midlife Mom Paranormal Women's Fiction Series
Single mom Melissa Hartley discovers that magic exists in the worst way possible: through her teenage daughter. Follow along as she navigates the world of the fae to protect her child from an ancient prophecy.
Until next time, happy adventuring!